Saturday, May 24, 2008

Paradise Gardens, Weddings & Fireworks

New Rules..! Only hike on the beach when the tide is low! I've been hammered twice by brutal sand flea bites (that cause incredible itching & red bumps on my lower legs) because I love to walk the beach. Well, no more! I'll hike the road system during high tides & walk the beach at low tides. Female sand fleas are just doing their jobs (of course) harvesting a rich protein source for their babies. They can also leave you with a malaria-like disease (which I hope I don't get).

I had another great day in Paradise... Paradise Gardens that is. Louise (who volunteers there) took me on a great tour. Paul & Jenny Saban (who retired in Boquete from England in 2005), created Paradise Gardens to house their own pets and exotic birds. People started bringing them birds and animals that were hurt or abandoned. One thing lead to another, and now they run the only bird/animal rescue center in Panama. Here are some pretty cool pictures of birds that live there. The blue macaw is a Hyacinth Macaw (only 500 remain in the wild in South America). These keel-billed toucans were rescued from bird pet trade. It's really sad, but some kids will capture parrots (that are green in Panama), dip them in bleach, then dye them yellow. Why yellow? Because then they are exotic parrots & fetch more money. Several parrots at Paradise Gardens are recovering from a bad dye job.

When I returned home, I noticed wedding music coming from Las Olas Hotel. Sure enough, there was a wedding being conducted in the sand by the ocean. There was lots of "Here Comes the Bride" music. Just as I sat down to dinner (trying to drown out that music with some of my own), there was a loud "Pop" as if someone was throwing rocks at my window. It was a HUGE fireworks display. Very cool! That's probably the tradition here in Panama... Get married, set off fireworks. It lasted about 10 minutes & some of the fireworks were bigger than what I saw in Fairbanks.


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